The state’s two top legislative leaders are warning Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried she is “undermining” lawmakers on hemp.
Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker José Oliva, both Republicans, sent a letter Friday to Fried, the only Democratic statewide elected official in Florida.
Here’s the nub of the conflict: The Legislature this year broadly legalized industrial hemp in the state, following passage of the 2018 federal Farm Bill.
The legislation (SB 1020) grants Fried’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services the authority to regulate the growing of hemp. It also creates an Industrial Hemp Advisory Council, “to provide advice and expertise to the department.”
Fried, however, last month created her own Hemp Advisory Committee to “help guide the (department’s) hemp rulemaking process and the state’s emerging hemp industry development.”
“While we respect your general authority to create advisory groups … the creation of an additional body to focus solely on the issue of hemp is duplicative and may undermine the statutory direction provided,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
They went on to ask Fried – a former medical marijuana lobbyist – to provide them, at her “earliest convenience, with any additional information that may mitigate these concerns.”
A request for comment is pending with Fried’s spokesman.